Angola beat Burkina Faso to top Group D at Cup of Nations.
By Rob Stevens.
Angola finished top of Group D at the Africa Cup of Nations finals as striker Mabululu’s first-half header and a stoppage-time finish from Zini secured a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso on Tuesday.
Both sides had been certain of progress before kick-off because of other results in the final round of games.
Burkina Faso ended their group campaign in second place after Mauritania eliminated Algeria by beating the 2019 champions 1-0.
Angola will face a third-placed side from Group E or F in the last 16 on Saturday, while Burkina Faso will take on the Group E winners next Tuesday.
Angola came into the finals as the lowest-ranked side in Group D at 117th in the world, but grabbed a draw against Algeria in their opening game before a thrilling 3-2 win over Mauritania on Saturday set the platform for qualification.
The southern Africans have reached the knockout stages for the first time since 2010, when they hosted the tournament and exited in the quarter-finals.
Angola edge close match
The contest in Yamoussoukro felt low-key at times, with Angola breaking the deadlock with the first real chance.
Ismahila Ouedraogo failed to cut out Fredy's delivery from the right, Mabululu directed his header from eight yards downwards and the ball bounced up past Stallions goalkeeper Herve Koffi and into the net.
After the break, Ouattara fired wide from inside the area after good closing down by the Angola defence, and Neblu came off his line to narrow the angle and save another effort from the Bournemouth winger with his legs just before the hour mark.
A nasty clash between Neblu and Abdoul Tapsoba with six minutes remaining appeared to leave the Angola goalkeeper dazed and, shortly afterwards, he sprinted to the edge of the area, dived forwards and pushed the ball out for a throw-in.
He was fortunate to only receive a yellow card from referee Jean Jacques Ndala Ngambo for that handball just outside the area, despite coach Hubert Velud leading protests from the Burkina Faso bench.
The West Africans had another chance to level in the final minute when Djibril Ouattara flicked Dango Ouattara's corner into the side-netting at the near post.
But substitute Zine was on hand to ensure that Angola ended the group stage unbeaten for the first time in 14 years when Koffi could not divert Jeremie Bela's shot from just outside the area away from danger.
The Stallions failed to score for the first time in 17 outings at the Afcon finals, and both sides will find out their last-16 opponents when Groups E and F reach their conclusion on Wednesday.